New sidewalks to be added near Niceville and Crestview schools

On Tuesday, the Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved adding new sidewalks near Niceville and Crestview schools, along with other street improvements.

In Niceville, the sidewalk improvements will happen at the Redwood Avenue and John Sims Parkway Intersection.

This area is located within walking distance of Plew Elementary School. Additionally, pedestrian traffic along Redwood Avenue has grown to the point where sidewalks are needed, according to Jason Autrey, Public Works Director.

“Segments of sidewalks exist in the area, but linking those sections along with intersection modifications will dramatically improve pedestrian safety,” said Autrey.

The Plan: 5 foot sidewalk improvements will tie into the existing facilities at the signalized intersection on SR 20 and extend south to Valparaiso Blvd., almost a mile south.

  • Other improvements include stormwater structures, driveway and intersection modifications, parallel parking spaces, retaining wall, signage and handrails.

“It’s a big win,” said Commissioner Mel Ponder. “It’s a mile of sidewalk and improvements.”

Money: $350,000 of surtax money was already allocated to get the project started. An additional $1,000,000 was approved to get it completed.

Up in Crestview

Several years ago, Okaloosa County, along with the Okaloosa County School Board, submitted a request to the Safe Route To Schools Program for sidewalks along Old Bethel Road in Crestview.

According to Autrey, it “just barely missed the cut” at that time, but the need has continued to grow.

“There’s more development out that way and the school has grown,” said Autrey. “Commissioner Paul Mixon reached out to the Surtax Committee and made a presentation about the potential for putting this sidewalk project in.”

Davidson Middle School is located on the south side of Old Bethel Road, just west of the Winn Dixie shopping center, located in the southwest corner of Highway 85 and Old Bethel in Crestview.

  • The westernmost middle school driveway also serves as an access to Crestview High School.
  • Lakewood Christian School is located directly across Old Bethel Road from that driveway.

Despite the numerous subdivisions located north and west of the three schools, and the obvious potential for foot and bicycle traffic, there are no sidewalks in an over mile-long segment of Old Bethel Road between the Winn Dixie shopping center and Normandy Road.

Autrey says that although his department requested full-funding of the project from the county, they will be submitting this project to the state for some reimbursement.

Money: The project will cost $1.5 million.

Commissioner Mixon was happy to see the project funded stating “there are hundreds of kids that walk morning and afternoon down these these non-existent shoulders.”

Timeline: Autrey told the Commissioners that the goal is to have the improvements complete by next school year.

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